Out To Launch!

It’s Out To Launch time again, and this week we pass the rock, inflate your tires, and talk about raising your kids.

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. will launch a new corporate advertising campaign that uses poignant vignettes of everyday life. The $20 million campaign, the company's first new campaign in three years, makes its debut during the NCAA Basketball Tournament's March Madness. The first television spots began airing during Sunday's broadcast of the games. The campaign, which was developed by Boston-based Arnold Worldwide, has a tagline that reminds Hartford's customers that the company is Always Thinking Ahead, so they can go on with the business of living their full, happy lives.

Speaking of basketball, Nike transports basketball fans to 1975 in a new television ad, appropriately named “Rucker” after Harlem’s legendary Rucker Park, which faithfully re-creates the look, feel, clothing, music and even hairstyles of Harlem in the mid-1970s. The spot features two teams -- Uptowns and West Siders -- squaring off on a hot August night in '75 in front of hundreds of basketball-crazed fans. With three minutes left in a heated battle, the crowd begins chanting “Dr. Funk,” in anticipation of Uptowns' secret weapon. Dr. Funk, who is actually Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter, lights up the West Siders in leading his team to victory. The game ends, fans rush the court, and the party begins. Carter features his signature basketball shoe, the Nike Shox VC, in the spot, which hit retails stores last Saturday. The other athletes wear the Nike Blazer, one of Nike's first basketball shoes, which debuted in the early 1970s.



Hungry after all that ball? How about a sandwitch? In Schlotzsky's Deli's new broadcast ad campaign featuring the Albuquerque Turkey sandwich, a series of Austin musicians serenade the sandwich with original new “mini-songs” in genres ranging from zydeco to hip-hop. The new spots will appear on national network TV, March 4-31, as well as on regional TV and radio. The national network TV spots are 15 seconds, while the regional TV buys include 30-second spots.

When Shell Oil Company learned that one in four drivers on the road has at least one substantially underinflated tire, the company opted to make tire safety an integral part of its “Smart Car Care” campaign. This will be the ninth installment in the “Count on Shell” driving safety series. Launched on Monday, “Smart Car Care” will feature an information booklet, television commercial and print advertisements to provide drivers with tips to help keep their vehicles operating safely and efficiently.

American Electric Power, a diversified energy company and America’s largest generator of electricity, has launched a new corporate positioning campaign centered on a sponsorship of Cirque du Soleil, the internationally renowned live entertainment group. The campaign, launched on March 3, reflects the culmination of the company’s multi-year transformation from a regionally focused traditional electric utility to a diversified energy leader with a balanced portfolio of energy assets. AEP will be an official sponsor of all four of Cirque du Soleil’s 2002 North American Tours. Both the advertising and sponsorship programs are part of a corporate branding campaign that the company launched in early March. The corporate campaign, which will run in major business publications, selected regional and energy trade publications and on targeted Internet sites over the next 10 months, features visuals of Cirque du Soleil performers. Digitas, a marketing and technology services firm that specializes in direct marketing and advertising, developed the campaign.

Going overseas, Sprint announced the launch of a humorous global advertising campaign. The ads, scheduled to appear in several European and Asia publications and Internet sites, feature customers achieving utmost success after choosing Sprint for their IP networking needs. The campaign, targeted at Internet Protocol (IP) business decision-makers, is the second developed for Sprint by StrawberryFrog, the Amsterdam-based creative agency.

On to website launches, as the U.S. government got an online face-lift this week. Their redesigned site brings together 35 million federal webpages, along with state and local government sites, making it a sort-of government portal. People can apply for jobs or student loans, renew drivers licenses, and even buy stamps through the site. Businesses can check laws and regulations, file patents and trademarks, and look into contracting opportunities., a consumer education website, re-launched its award-winning parenting site Featuring improved navigation, better targeting of moms according to the age of their children, and new ad units that provide advertisers better exposure. now offers a new IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) advertising unit -- 180 x 150 -- that enables advertisers to broadcast a Flash-based animation movie in the context of featured editorial content. This offer complements the site's Skyscraper ads.

WebFN, a 24/7 streaming financial news and business information network, and CBS, Inc., a source of financial news and information, today announced the re-launch of The re-launched features WebFN's 24/7 streaming financial news Webcast and's financial data and tools throughout the site. The relationship specifically positions's BigCharts brand as the exclusive provider of financial charts on the new site.

The Cobalt Group and the Austin American-Statesman announced the launch of an all-new online car-shopping site - StatesmanCars. Cobalt, a provider of e-business software and services to the automotive retail market, and the Austin American-Statesman, a Cox newspaper, teamed up to bring car buyers in Central Texas convenient access to new and used vehicle listings from local dealers and private parties. Now, these buyers can build and find their dream cars, conduct side-by-side comparisons of various makes and models, locate a specific dealership and search its entire inventory, as well as request a price quote.

This newsletter is compiled weekly by MediaPost staff writer Adam Bernard. Past issues are archived at the MediaPost website. Your comments, questions and submissions are always welcome and appreciated.

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